Singer-songwriter Kate Tucker Test Drives the Shure MV88 iOS Mic

The SHURE MV88 is a simple easy way to up your songwriter game without much investment or management.

You may not need the SHURE MV88, but once you have it, you won’t look back. As a songwriter in Nashville, I find myself in every imaginable writing situation in locations as diverse as one room offices on Music Row, gorgeous vaulted studios, and the occasional bonfire, back porch, or pickup truck — no joke, those country songs are for real. I use my iPhone to capture everything from Instagram photos to grocery lists so any song idea that comes along usually goes straight to my voice memos. While that works decently as an idea bank, the sound is not ideal, even for your basic work tape. I started taking the MV88 with me to co-writes and the overall sound quality was significantly improved, especially when more than one instrument or voice was involved.

The setup is super simple — once you download the MOTIV app, you just plug in the MV88 to the lightning connector on your phone (you may need to remove the phone case), and open the app. I found the navigation to be relatively intuitive after about sixty seconds of looking around, with the exception of a somewhat clunky file naming system. You can rename, share, convert files, and even add artwork once you’ve named and saved a recording, but don’t be fooled when you try to share the initial recording via email. MOTIV records everything as a .wav which is too large for most email servers to send or receive, and though the app will tell you the file was sent, it most likely went nowhere.

Troubleshooting this could mean uploading to Dropbox directly from the app, converting the file first to Apple Lossless or AAC 96,128, 256 kbps, (there is no option to convert to mp3) OR if you really wanna get it to someone fast, you can create artwork (MOTIV will ask for access to your photo library) and MOTIV will automatically attach the recording to your newly created artwork in your photo library as a .mov file which you can send via text message. Depending on the length of the recording it will be too long to email. While this may be a fun way to send work tapes to your co-writers or producers in the moment, it’s obviously not effective as any sort of long term record.

I found that the enhancement of sound quality was significant enough to bring the MV88 with me to co-writing sessions, but I wanted to test its spoken word capabilities so I took it to a single subject interview for a documentary I’m making. I generally use my iPhone internal mic and voice memo app as a backup recording device for reference purposes and when I tried the MV88 instead, I didn’t find any real difference in quality. In fact, I had to max out the gain for the output to even approach what the iPhone internal mic would normally capture. I think I’d probably skip using the MV88 on voice recordings and stick with the music.

It seems the place this mic excels the most is in the live show setting as the ability to control direction, compression, limiting, wind reduction, EQ and more gives you an obvious boost on any internal mic situation. If you’re a performing songwriter, you could use the MV88 everywhere from the merch table of the rock club you’re playing to the radio station you visit before the show and whatever you capture is going to be at least good enough to share with your favorite fans. So all in all, I think a worthy purchase for all the makers out there moving and shaking with iPhones in their pockets. 

MSRP: $149

Kate Tucker is a Nashville-based singer-songwriter originally from Ohio. Her latest album, The Shape The Color The Feel, was released by her band project Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden.